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Like most women, girls are more likely to be assaulted by men they know and trust, even those who are supposed to protect them, not abuse them. If you don’t think this can happen to you or someone you love, think again.
“In sisterhood, we must rally around and support girls who are victimized by random violence.”
I have witnessed women being assaulted by men and believe me when I tell you that you must ACT. Failure to do so may result in that woman’s death. In this case, we are talking about girls. Girls are children and in greater need of our protection. Many of the guidelines that I provide are the same for both women and girls, however, there are some differences, especially if you are a girl trying to help another girl.
Assaults are dangerous and can happen very quickly and, of course, you might be scared. This is a natural response to violence. And ideally, you want to help her get away from her attacker. However, this is not the safest thing to do and may not even be possible at the time. What else can you do? Try these suggestions:
- Make sure you are safe first. If you feel unsafe, get to safety immediately.
- If you can, capture what is happening on your cell phone. In these times, this may be the best way to help her and hold the attacker accountable.
- Call emergency services. This may be 911, local police, or the fire department.
- Contact the authorities. This means calling and writing the school principal, police director, legal services, and others. If the attacker is an authority figure, contact that person’s supervisor.
- Share the story with those who can help. This means telling adults if you are younger than 18 years old, telling medical staff and counselors. You may even need to alert the media.
- Don’t blame the victim. Even if you do not know all the facts, know the fact that no one has the right to violently hurt girls and violate them.
- Get follow-up help for the girl who is assaulted and yourself. Shock and trauma are common after an assault. Even witnessing an assault in public can be traumatic. Take care of yourself and each other.
Remember: we all have the power to make a positive difference. Together, we are stronger.